Out of Print: The Trouble of Finding Old Games

When I began college, the Peer to Peer filesharing scene was dying. With campuses clamping down on the networks, and with iPods making the concept of actually purchasing music legitimate again, the likes of Kazaa and Limewire were hard to find. Despite this I managed to acquire a massive amount of music as a student. Rather than search for high quality files, my freshman self tore through the CD binders of my friends, ripping any album I thought to be interesting. This method of sampling made me not just a fan of new music, but of whole albums. In a world where the single is all the rage, classic rock albums became my poison of choice. And when I got out of college, I realized I wanted physical copies of most of them. →  All happy games are alike; each unhappy game is unhappy in its own way.

Review – Lunar Knights

Because Lunar Knights is such a solid little game, I had hoped the gameworld would be fleshed out; I hoped that I’d have enough new levels to allow me to upgrade all my weapons without returning to the same stages over and over. I wanted the many mechanics to continue to build on each other and each to be fully realized. Hell, while playing it I designed my own game (usually I charge to see my ace designs, but for the sake of this review I am willing to go hungry):

Multiple high quality CG movies in a DS game? Yes, please.

Imagine Zelda in one expertly designed dungeon that has many facets closed off at any given point. As you progress you gain control over the weather but cannot change it at will, you must decide on the climate before descending into the dungeon, so choose well. →  Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing memory cards.

James Mielke – not so Rockstar journalist

I am simply not a fan of James Mielke over at 1up. The man makes sure constantly that you know how awesome he is, how many contacts and friends he has in the games industry, and how long he has done this. He loves grilling any and all people he thinks are idiots, a title you can seemingly earn by disagreeing with him. If anyone he doesn’t know (or isn’t a pro writer) makes some sort of commentary, he will shoot it down. Apparently you aren’t legit as an amateur – unless 1up finds you.

Normally I just shake my head at this and leave it alone. I simply don’t read his content, and that is that. But I had to take a peek at 1up’s cover story for Devil May Cry 4, considering how much I look forward to the game. →  Read Dead Redemption

Defending the Obsidian Knights

It is now common knowledge that Obsidian was forced to rush the release of Knights of the Old Republic II. As a result, one of the most common complaints about the game is that it has an abrupt ending. As a matter of fact, whenever I would tell any of my videogame savvy friends that I had finally picked up KOTOR II they would almost always unanimously say something along the lines of: “it’s good but the ending is rushed.” I believe it was Jay who actually told me that the game has bits of unfinished dialogue coded into it that the developers were forced to scrap due to time constraints.

After having beaten the game in just over 55 hours (and that’s long enough for me) I don’t see what the big problem is. →  They’re reading her… and then they’re going to read me!

School of Shmups – Intro

A few blog posts ago, I asked people if they would like an article series devoted to the shoot ’em up genre. The response was solid, and so I begin the endeavor with this introductory article, in which we lay out the rules for our fun. I will also be making sure to link to these rules at the start of each new column, so those who actually try and read won’t accuse me of things I already stated.

Thankfully, the rules are simple. Each article will begin with some basic information about when and where the shmup came from, followed by the best ways to try to play it. After that, we take a look at how the game fits into the genre. As I learn more of the terminology and history regarding shmups, I hope to use this section to look at a game’s influences, its impact, and where it seems to stand in the eyes of the dedicated community. →  Read awhile, and listen.

Review – Sam & Max Season 2, Episode 2: Moai Better Blues

Episode 2 of Season 2 of Sam and Max continues the fresh trends we saw in Ice Station Santa. The pacing is brisk, the filler is minimal, and each location is compact. This is a good thing, because without these elements this episode might have been painful. The puzzles this time around are dastardly and obfuscated, harkening back to the old days of the adventure genre while not quite reaching the level of absurdity of a Gabriel Knight game. Just as striking as the spike in difficulty is the shift towards humor that is even more obscure and older in taste. Whether or not these are two trends for the future, or a sign of Telltale mixing it up as they see fit, remains to be seen. Whatever the case, this is a stumbling block for the series. →  Max Post 2: The Fall of Max Post

Breaking news – Wii sales decent, PS3 the greatest

Edit 1.26.08: This first interview is likely fake. The odds of a new blog getting first Robbie Bach and then Ken Kutaragi interviews one after another seem infinitesimal. If this is the case, don’t I feel like an ass.

In an interview that shocked the gaming world, Microsoft’s Robbie Bach announced that the Wii is in fact selling. This contradicts earlier reports that the console was an abysmal failure and moved only 14 units this past holiday season.

From Bach:

“At Microsoft we think of the Wii in a different bracket of gaming so its hard to compare the two consoles. The Wii has a very small life cycle and doesn’t compare to the Xbox 360 feature wise. And while it is taking plausible 360 sales its important to notice that Nintendo has created a revolutionary device and Microsoft expected it to sell decent, and the system can afford to sell decent because its very similar to a childs toy. →  God of War: Readnarok

Hidden costs of next gen gaming or how HD killed the video star

So, here is what happened: I got an Xbox 360 as a gift for Christmas. I had requested it as a gift because I knew that to purchase it on my own would mean a few months of saving; something I’m not good at. I’ve got student loans to pay and blow to snort; there’s just no room for savings in my life. I appreciated the gift and received it with the grace of Ernest Borgnine; but, in the back of my head I braced myself for the added expense of having to buy at least one new game a month. (I don’t rent; renting is un-American; I like to own my media.) Now, if Christmas came every month, or if I lived below the Mason-Dixon line, (which comes to the same thing) I’d be set. →  You think about everything.

A Passage to games as art

If you have not yet encountered Passage, don’t google it. Don’t go read reviews, don’t even read the comments to this post.
It only takes 5 minutes to play the game, and you would have spent that long reading. So just play it, and remember that you can explore up and down as well as left to right.

Here’s the Windows version
and the Mac version
and Unix source (SDL libraries required)

Try to beat my high score…1563

Then – and only then – read the creator’s statement, and play it again.

I’ll wait…

Congratulations, you have just experienced games as art. And now that you’ve played the game at least twice come discuss it in the comments, where I have left a more detailed and spoiler-filled reaction.

EA: Level 10 alchemists, Level 1 Tech Support Part 2

When we last left our heroes, they were encountering fucktardery of the highest order at EA while trying to get a replacement Rock Band guitar. After muddling his way through their horrible tech support, my roommate managed to talk to a real human being who was able to fix the problem. Days later, a new guitar showed up. Even better, there was no accountability attached to the guitar to indicate we needed to return the foot pedal they had mistakenly sent. Gleeful, we were in the process of trying to figure out how to scam EA. Our thought was that we might install the new foot pedal and attempt to return the old one for a SECOND new foot pedal. This would arm us with a spare in the event of a foot pedal malfunction. →  I got served!

Review – Manhunt 2

Rockstar Games’ Hot Coffee scandal is something of a classic debate among myself and some of the staff writers. Long before that in the summer of 2005, I waged war against two good friends (and even better gamers) about the topic. We spent the last hour and a half of work arguing about who to blame and what it means, the debate continuing into the Walmart parking lot and only ending when we stepped into our cars.

The last point of discussion was a desperate attempt of a younger (and much more idealistic) me to fight for the future of gaming. I claimed that Rockstar could have used both the Hot Coffee mini game and the fiasco itself to prove just how unfairly harsh critics of the gaming industry are compared to other media outlets. →  Secread of Evermore

Gaming on the L train

I like to look cool. Obviously I’m not alone in this, but living in New York and taking the much-derided (for its “hipness”) L train makes this a more pressing issue for me than most. Many of our dear readers no doubt plop into their clunky cars, polluted with fast food wrappers and other etc’s, and drive to and from work more or less anonymously. I, on the other hand get jabbed with stares by confidence-sapping girls who are far too pretty, rich, and successful to ever want to talk to me for more than an instant. Still, I like to pretend.

So when I received my shiny-black Nintendo DS for Xmas, my thoughts quickly turned to “how cool am I going to look using this on the subway?” In fact I’d say this was the second thing that came to mind, right after “why didn’t I get any fucking games?!” →  Tony Hawk's Posting Ground

Review – Growlanser: Heritage of War

The third Growlanser game we’ve received stateside, Heritage of War, is actually the fifth in the series. We received Growlansers 2 and 3 as the last games of the late Working Designs (what is Gaijinworks up to, anyways?) in the Generations package. This game is a more than adequate successor.

Similar to the third Growlanser, Heritage of War is a Strategy RPG with leanings toward the RPG side. You move around the world exploring cities and caves, but when a battle starts, you enter a sort of active-time strategy mode in which you can pause anytime to give orders to any of your allies. For those of you who’ve tried Final Fantasy XII, it’s a lot like that with a faster pace and pausing while giving orders. In random battles, your allies’ AI can usually take care of things on its own. →  Onimusha 2: Samuread's Destiny

Bionic Commando – can Capcom do no wrong?

I have said it in the past, but they keep proving it right time after time – Capcom was one of the most exciting developers of last generation, and they look to be the undisputed king of the industry in this new one. Let us just look at some of the games they have blessed us with:

– Okami is getting a second life on the Wii.
– Street Fighter 4 gives us the sequel so many wanted, and the SF2 HD Remix team has done an incredible job of keeping the community involved and informed, to make sure we get what we want.
– After initial uncertainty, they decided to bless us with the entirety of Phoenix Wright.
– Devil May Cry 4 on two platforms.
– A sequel to Bionic Commando. →  Nobody puts article in a corner.

2008 Game Predictions part 2

Continued from Part 1.

Christian’s predictions

Devil May Cry 4
I realized when I decided to write about this game that I knew very little about it. What are they doing with DMC4? If you look around the ‘net you will find previews, but fewer than I expected. Leave it to Gamespot to write a classic preview that lays out the entire first five levels of the game, complete with story spoilers for me to read.

As nice as the game looks, I’m getting a bad feeling about the whole project. I have no idea how Devil May Cry stacks up to the competition in terms of sales, but I can’t imagine that its last entry led to numbers comparable to God of War or the numerous Ninja Gaiden revisions. →  Lamers so loved the world that they gave their only article, so that everyone who believes in reading won’t perish but will have eternal lives.

Best Game Ever — Baldur’s Gate 2, Shadows of Amn

When Jay asked me to write a “Best Game Ever” entry for Baldur’s Gate 2, my first instinct was to refuse the offer. Why? Because I love the game too much and I feared that nothing I could write would do it justice. It would be like trying to write a review for New York City. I mean where would you even begin something like that? How would you dissect something so steeped in its own mythology? Would you even want to? And just because here I am writing, does not mean that sentiment has changed. Whatever ideas I might express here will ultimately fall short of accurately encompassing the experience of playing Baldur’s Gate 2. However strong my control over language might be, it will ultimately prove woefully inadequate in approximating for you, the reader, the overall feeling I had as a player of Baldur’s Gate 2. →  Read Band 2

2008 Game Predictions part 1

2008 promises to be an excellent year for gaming. The 360’s software lineup should remain strong and the Wii and PS3 are coming into their own. From Spore to Metal Gear Solid 4, there will be some huge titles coming out soon, but will they actually live up to the hype?

Based on released information, knowledge of development history and gut feeling, we have chosen some of the games we most look forward to this year and predicted how they will turn out. These should be about as likely to be accurate as any analysts predictions and we charge less.

Golden Jew’s predictions

Civilization Revolution
I’ve written about this already, so this feels cheap and easy (like your… sister?). I stand by my prediction that this will be a good, if not great game. →  Monster Reader 4

Article idea – shmups anyone?

You may or may not have noticed, but over the last three months or so I have found my articles and blogs to be increasingly cranky. I have been hoping to get away from this attitude in order to bring more insight and entertainment, and I have the perfect solution. My biggest problem has been an attempt to comment on and tackle every big issue in gaming, especially when my views don’t coincide with the rest of the fandom. Simply put, you cannot change the world, and with the way internet fandom works, it seems an especially useless tasks. So while I won’t stop looking at the important issues, perhaps the best form of anger management is to find a happy place. Which brings me to my idea for a new article. →  I'd rather die than not read this article!

All you ever need to know about Japan

After spending 10 nights in Japan I am now qualified to make sweeping statements about the Japanese culture. The following are immutable truths (told in a convenient pros and cons style) about this wonderful and bizarre country:

Suntory Boss is the boss of them all since 1992.

There’s no use denying it.

Japanese people seem as pro-Japan as Americans are pro-America. I was asked by one of my gracious host’s fathers why we came to Japan. He was an awesome guy but really pushed hard for an answer he found satisfactory. I think the question was probably just mistranslated and he actually asked, “How awesome is Japan?” The same day, a man on the street approached us and told us in English that “Japan is number 1.” With proof like that who was I to argue. →  Ys: The Article of Napishtim

Street Fighter 4 Backlash

Capcom is taking the usual approach when it comes to hyping up Street Fighter 4. They slowly release videos and screenshots, while allowing all sorts of previews and interviews to try and assure fans that they know what they are doing.

Of course, in this day and age such a method of hype is the wrong way. I have not done much to check out how the hardcore fighting game community feels about SF4, but among mainstream gamers and the non fighter “hardcore” crowd, the reactions are less than stellar. Bad words are flying about the stages, the new character, the way the fighting itself seems to work. It all seems baffling considering the game is still in an incredibly early stage (not even alpha yet), and the only confirmed platform is Japanese arcades (which was a guarantee when the game was announced). →  Hey, hey, hey, it’s time to make some crazy reading!